Two weeks ago I found this transparent flexible 10″ record in an antique book store. The material the record is made of seems to be some sort of plastic, that is much lighter than shellac. On this home recording a certain Nina Winter is reading a poem in celebration of her friend Maria “Mitzi” Lichtenegger passing her driving test on October 25, 1941 at the driving school Suchanka in Mariahilf, Vienna. The rhymes reveal that Mitzi´s husband had already passed the test before her and that her driving instructor Mr. Fischer, though a rigorous and earnest man, was quite pleased with her. That´s about all the personal information I could gather from the record.
It´s a glimpse into the private lives of ordinary people in war time Vienna. While millions were expelled, killed and put into concentration camps, others were obviously still passing the time with making their drivers licenses, writing poems about it and then even having them recorded….
NINA WINTER, Der Führerschein, 1941
Last year I found a whole bunch of Danish 78s in a local thrift store and then already posted Eddie Russell´s version of “Blazin´ The Trail”. Eddie Russell (1908-86) was a popular Danish singer from the 40s to the 70s and recorded over 400 sides. Sadly only a handful of these have ever been been reissued. I found a few Youtube videos of his 78s playing and one CD of what sounded like his 60s material. But no Eddie Russell on Wikipedia, Discogs or any other fan site.
Now here´s another Stalin related record from the same bunch of Danish 78s that I found last year, like the majority of the them, issued by the Tono label, the most important Danish record label until the late 50s. “Stalin og Truman og Churchill og mig” (Stalin and Truman and Churchill and me) was recorded most probably right after the Allied Liberation of Denmark in the summer of 1945.
Two cheerful tunes that celebrate the fact that Denmark finally got rid of the fascists….
Just found this 78rpm record last week in a local antique book store together with the rock´n´roll birthday card/record. It´s a nice little oddity from Berlins musical past: the youth choir of the Central German Broadcasting system singing two odes to Joseph Stalin.
The record was released probably between 1949 and 1951 by Ernst Busch, one of Germany´s foremost interpreters of political songs. Busch set up the first record label in communist East-Germany in 1946. In 1953 his own comrades turned his company into into a soviet style people-owned enterprise, a Volkseigener Betrieb. A lifelong communist, Busch had fled Nazi Germany in 1933, settled in the Soviet Union, fought in the Spanish Civil War, fled from Franco´s Nationalist to Belgium and was interned by the Germans and later imprisoned in France and Berlin. Freed by the Soviet army in 1945, he settled in East-Berlin.
After the fall of the wall in 1989 and the collapse of the communist system, most of the former people-owned enterprises were bought by private businesses. Today the exact same people that own the rights to the songs of Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys, own the catalog of Ernst Busch´s communist record label. Pretty funny that capitalists now also own these commie propaganda songs. Of course these two Stalin love songs, recorded by a group of unknowns, at an unknown date more than 60 years ago, in a political system hostile to the one we live in today, have never been reissued.
Lied über Stalin
Musik: Ferencz Szabo
Text: M. Inyushkin und Erich Weinert
Es schwingt über Gipfel und Täler und Auen
mit Schwingen des Adlers ein herrliches Lied.
Das Lied über Stalin, dem alle vertrauen,
zu dem wir in Liebe und Freundschaft erglühn.
Wir lassen mit Stolz unser Sturmlied erklingen.
Wir führen zum Siege den Stalinschen Plan.
Wenn wir unser glückliches Leben besingen,
wir wissen, mit wem wir das Tagwerk getan.
Es schwingt über Gipfel und Täler und Auen,
wo Flieger sich grüßen in Wolken und Wind,
das Lied über Stalin, dem alle vertrauen,
dem alle wir treu und verantwortlich sind.
Song about Stalin
With the swings of an eagle, a glorious song
is swinging over mountain tops and valleys and meadows .
A song about Stalin, who everyone trusts,
for whom we are burning with love and friendship.
Proudly we sing our battle song.
We ´ll lead Stalin’s plan to victory.
While we sing about our fortunate lives,
we´ll know with whom we have done our day´s work.
Swinging over mountain tops and valleys and meadows,
where flyers greet in clouds and wind,
is the song about Stalin,
who everyone trusts,
who we are all true and responsible to.
Interesting aside: If you look a litle closer at the label of the the A-Side “Lied über Stalin” above, you will notice a light blue shade of another label that seems to be glued under it. Because I was curious, I reversed the scan with Photoshop and it revealed the words Jazz-Harmonika and Albert Vossen.
After a little Internet research I found the record on Ebay. It´s “Komm´ zurück “ (Come back) by popular West-German jazz-accordionist Albert Vossen mit seinen Tanz-Rhythmikern with vocals by (Rudi) Schuricke Terzett. Indeed this is a Telefunken label from before 1945. Because of the shortage of shellac in the post-war years, old shellac records were often used to produce new ones. But paper was equally short. This is probably an example of the back sides of old labels being used.
(From my GDR collection, an advertisement for the HO Industriewaren, the state-owned retail business, on Stalinallee. Formerly Große Frankfurter Strasse, the street was renamed in honour of Stalin´s 70th birthday on December 21, 1949. Again renamed in 1961 to Karl-Marx-Allee, after loving Stalin went out of style, the huge boulevard still exists in all its pompous socialist glory today.
“Do you know the biggest shop-window? From Strausberger Platz to Proskauer Strasse (Niederbarnim Strasse)… extend our special business outlets. Shop after shop, window after window, through which you will see our rich range of goods.”)
By the way, before anyone gets any wrong ideas…
The only Stalin I´m interested in, is this Stalin:
Every once in a while I like to go to a Berlin record convention. The records there are a little more expensive than in thrift stores but generally of much better quality. It´s nice to be in a room filled with choice stuff for a change, instead of my usual neighborhood stores where I have to wade through heaps of garbage. I hadn´t found so much on that one day a couple of years ago, and was about ready to leave when I came across a seller specializing in magazines. While randomly browsing through some of them, I noticed this Music Makers (of stage-screen-radio!) magazine from December 1940, way down at the bottom of the stack. At first it seemed like a typical tabloid featuring the regular pop stars of the swing era – no real jazz music in there with all of the featured artists being white. When suddenly, somewhere in the middle of the magazine, I saw this double spread about the SAVOY BALLROOM! Immediately I knew that I wanted this magazine and I took it home for four euros.
If you search the Internet for photos of the Savoy Ballroom or even just any period lindy hoppers, the same handful of images seem to pop up. I haven´t seen these shots before, so I thought it would be nice to share them. They´re pictures of regulars at the club, some of them sitting on the floor, watching couples doing some wild air steps. The atmosphere is casual, not very ballroomsy, the girls are wearing simple skirts and saddle shoes, lotsa guys are without ties, some of them wearing sandals. It must have been in the midst of the summer.
Sadly the accompanying article is full-on racist. It shouldn´t be surprising regarding the nature of this white pop magazine, but it´s still worth remembering, while we enjoy swing dancing and listening to swing music today, how common racism was in the 30s. The article reflects the widespread bigotry of the period, when it was hip to be entertained by Cab Calloway at the Cotton Club, where black people were not allowed. Few people actually went to Harlem to hang out, let alone move there like Mezz Mezzrow, who was a junkie. The whole country was segregated. But it was still nowhere near the degree of murderous racism that was taking place right here in Berlin at the same time in 1940. Now it´s always said, that the Savoy Ballroom was the only integrated ballroom in the U.S. and probably the whole world. If you look closely, you can even find some white faces in these photos. Double-click on them and they will get much bigger.
Just for historical accuracy and to remind us of the dubious source of these images, I transcribed the article in full. So please don´t blame me for reproducing the racist trash talk or the numerous irregularities in this exploitation piece. It´s what came with these pictures.
Stompin´at the Savoy
by Ted Farah
THINK it over – and if you want to know the reason why darkies were born come along to Harlem´s Savoy ballroom. Sure, someone has to to plant the cotton, and someone has to pick the corn, just like the song says. Someone has to shine shoes and wait on tables and do housework, but that ain´t all.
Someone´s gotta dance. Someone´s gotta play hot, rapturous jazz on a piano and a trumpet, on a high laughing clarinet, on low mournful trombones. Some colored gal in a flashy evening gown has to stand at a microphone and sing the blues away, while a mean horn plays all in and out and around the melody.
Down below the platform, on the long dimly-lighted dance floor, the boys and girls are struttin´, jivin´, cuttin´ up. The days´s work is done. No boss to´yell orders. Only rhythm. Plenty of rhythm. All God´s chillun got rhythm.
For fifteen years this has been going on at the Savoy, in the heart of Harlem, the greatest colored community in the world. Remember, way back in the twenties, when the Charleston was the rage all over the country?
The Charleston was born at the Savoy. A sepia cavalcade of jazz could be based on the dance crazes that were cradled in one upper Manhattan ballroom. After the Charleston, they gave out the Blackbottom and it was succeeded by the Lindy Hop, Truckin´, Suzy-Q, Boogie-Woogie and Big Apple, with a few others in between. For dancing like that, ecstatic, jubilant, all out dancing you have to have music. That´s where Duke Ellington, the great Duke who means so much to American music, comes in. He got his first big breaks at the Savoy. The late drummer genius Chick Webb was discovered here. Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Lunceford, Erskine and Coleman Hawkins, The Four Ink Spots – began their careers in the Savoy.
The kids who go there – attracted by a reasonable admission price, ten-cent beer and jazz played by masters – go strictly to dance.
Many songs have been composed by musicians, sitting around its lively atmosphere. They say Hoagy Carmichael wrote his ever popular “Stardust” while sitting at the Savoy. Gene Krupa jotted down his startling “Bolero” there one night. Chick Webb dictated “Stompin´at the Savoy” to Ella Fitzgerald in a moment of inspiration between dance sets. “Tuxedo Junction” was born there.
The Stompin´at the Savoy reaches its zenith on Thursday nights. This is a free night for ladies. By eleven, the dance floor is jammed. By midnight the building seems to be rocking with rhythm and the dancing that goes on would bring joy to the heart of a wooden Indian.
A cavalcade of dances could be based on the styles cradled in the Savoy – birthplace of the Charleston, Blackbottom, Truckin´, Lindy Hop, and Big Apple.
(captions from Music Makers magazine:)
This series of action pictures shows members of the Savoy´s “Four Hundred Club” in action on the dance floor. The club is composed of the best dancers in Harlem.
While the band on the platform provides torrid rhythms, they skillfully toss their partners toward the ceiling, or around their shoulders.
There is no charge for membership in the “Four Hundred Club”, but aspirants must demonstrate to members that they are good enough dancers.
Once admitted to the club, they may attend the regular Tuesday night dance sessions at the Savoy and get in at the club rate, which is less expensive.
At these sessions of the “Four Hundred Club” you see some of the smartest amateur dancing on view anywhere.
Truckin´and the Lindy Hop are highly popular dances among the Savoy Stompers. Here you see a Truckin´couple being “sent” clear out of this world.
Fast action is characteristic of the youngsters when they “get hot” while Stompin´at the Savoy. Here is a remarkable photo that captures the speed and spirit of a dancing couple.
Photos by Barry
I love this song! It´s schmaltzy and it is a little irritating when they sing about “das schöne Hula-Mädchen mit dem rabenschwarzen Haar” (the pretty hula girl with the pitch black hair), but compared to the majority of German Hawaiian music, this doesn´t sound so damn German. Because it isn´t. The Dutch duo Goldy and Peter de Vries, backed by the Horst Wende Trio, recorded in the ruins of Hamburg.
This is a 78rpm record that I bought two weeks ago in a local Berlin thrift store for 50 cents….
Peter de Vries is mentioned in this 1951 article about some Kids in cowboy gear posing in the ruins near the Cologne Cathedral. Apparently he was quite famous for his cowboy songs in the early 50s.
Indianer gingen – Cowboys blieben.
Geschäfte für Scherzartkel, die früher an kleine Kunden Indianer-Kopfschmuck verkauften, verdanken heute dem Cowboy-Darsteller William Boyd, der als “Hopalong Cassidy” in zahlreichen Filmen die Kinder in aller Welt begeistert, ungeahnten Umsatz. In Deutschland half der Schlagersänger Peter de Vries, die Cowboys und ihre Lieder populär zu machen. (Neue Illustrierte, Köln 1951)
For some reason the trift store, where I bought most of the 78rpm records, also had a lot of Danish records. Out of curiosity I bought a bunch of them, but most of them turned out to be pretty boring.
Not this one. Although sung in Danish, and nowhere as fast as the original “Blazin´The Trail To My Home” written by Teddy Powell and recorded in 1945 by Gene Autry, Eddie Russell´s version is a pretty close approximation of American western swing music. Or at least much closer than every German Cowboy song I have ever heard.
Now if I only found a cheap way of getting rid of the awful clicks and hisses. This record cost 50 cents.
Managua, Nicaragua was first recorded by Freddy Martin´s orchestra and reached #1 on the Billboard charts in 1947. Rita Paul, backed by Walter Dobschinski and his Swingband, did a version sung in English for the Amiga label in 1948. I love Rita Paul but this Danish version, sung by Valdemar Davids, is much better. Danish just sounds much funnier and the fast swinging groove gets me on my feet every time.
This is a Wikipedia photo of Danish bandleader Teddy Petersen (1892-1991) and his orchestra, probably at restaurant Wivex at Tivoli in Copenhagen in 1941. Petersen is standing to the far left with violin.
Teddy Petersen also appears in this 1941 film. The showgirls in the silky hot pants arguing with the lady toward the end of the film almost made me pee my pants:
Just for comparison, this is Freddy Martin´s original version of Managua, Nicaragua:
German pop music probably never sounded more American than in the years right after WWII. American style swing music was discouraged in Nazi-Germany, surpassing the censors only when disguised as “Deutsche Tanzmusik”. Lots of “German Swing Music” was published in Nazi-Germany, but nothing really wild was recorded until after the war, stuff like Kurt Henkels ultra-fast Swing Heil from 1949. But by the mid-50s the schmaltzy “Heimat music” took over, killed most of the swing music and suger-coated the timid attempts to play rock´n´roll in Germany.
This might not be the really wild and fast type of swing music, but German music never got to be more swingin´ than Ilja Glusgal backed by Walter Dobschinski and his orchestra.
“Without the ke-, ka-, kiss, what would couples do?”